Plant Pathology Graduate Program Requirements

Plant Pathology offers two masters degrees; the non-thesis master of plant pathology (MPP) and the thesis master of science (MS), and the doctor of philosophy (Ph.D.) degree.

Master of Plant Pathology (MPP) Degree Requirements

The Master of Plant Pathology is a non-thesis degree that requires 30 semester hours of coursework.

To fulfill the 30 semester hours requirement, you must successfully complete:

  • 12 semester hours of required core curriculum courses;
  • Minimum of additional six (6) semester hours of graduate-level plant pathology courses;
  • Additional twelve (12) semester hours of graduate-level courses in plant pathology or related field of study;
  • Successfully pass a comprehensive oral examination;
  • Master’s Thesis Research (PP 695) may not be included on the plan of work.
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Master of Science (M.S.) Degree Requirements

The Master of Science degree requires students to complete 30 semester hours and an original master’s research thesis. The Graduate School does not give credit for non-credit course work (i.e. non-departmental seminars, workshops, short courses, conferences, and any “life experience” offerings). Furthermore, the Graduate School does not allow credit by examination.

To fulfill the 30-semester hour’s requirement, students must successfully complete:

  • A minimum of 18 semester hours of letter-graded courses (A, B, C). These must be NC State University or inter-institutional courses. A maximum of 12 semester hours may come from the NCSU Post-Bacculaurate Studies (PBS). The graduate level course must be “B” grade or better;
  • Of which 12 semester hours are the required Plant Pathology core curriculum courses;
  • Presentation of the thesis research update in the third semester presented at the MS/PhD Symposium normally in fall semester (M.S. students register for PP 601);
  • Minimum of one (1) semester hour of masters supervised teaching (PP 685);
  • Minimum of six (6) semester hours of graduate-level plant pathology courses, the core PP707 may count as one of these courses;
  • Remaining hours in plant pathology or related field of study with no more than six (6) semester hours of 400-level (undergraduate) courses not in plant pathology;
  • Master’s Thesis Research (PP695) semester hours unlimited as long as the program minimum requirements are met;
  • The grade for all Satisfactory (S)/Unsatisfactory(S) graded courses must be “S”;
  • Credit hours for the following courses may NOT be used to satisfy the 30-credit hour requirement: Non-Thesis Master’s Examination (XXX 690), Summer Thesis Research (XXX 696), Non-Thesis Master’s Continuous Registration (XXX 688 and XXX 689).

Updated: 17 June 2021

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Doctoral (Ph.D.) Degree Requirements

Students must complete 72 semester hours and an original Ph.D. dissertation. Up to 18 semester hours of previous master’s coursework may be applied toward this Ph.D. degree. This may be up to 36 semester hours if the master degree was completed at NC State and without an interruption in semesters between the two-degree programs. All degree requirements must be completed within ten (10) calendar years of the admission term or the date of the first course used in the Plan of Work, whichever is earlier. All doctoral students enrolled 2018 fall semester and later must attain candidacy (unconditionally pass the written and oral preliminary exam) for the degree within four (4) years of starting their program or after they have completed 48 hours of coursework, whichever is later (Section 3.5c). Students enrolled before 2018 fall semester have six (6) years.

Applicants applying to the doctoral program have three options:

  • Students with M.S. degrees can apply directly to the Ph.D. program;
  • First admitted to the M.S. program, then after two semesters, if the student is making outstanding research progress judged to be leading to a doctoral dissertation they may petition to bypass the M.S. to pursue the Ph.D. in plant pathology. The request must have unanimous approval of the M.S. advisory committee and be approved by the DGP and Department Head and the Dean of the Graduate School;
  • Admission directly to the Ph.D. program. Exceptional students with baccalaureate degrees can apply directly to the Ph.D. program. These students should have outstanding academic records including a breadth of courses in the sciences with an excellent GPA (>3.5) and should have completed at least one summer research internship or have other research type experience beyond the baccalaureate degree.

To fulfill the 72 semester hours requirement, you must successfully complete:

  • 12 semester hours of required core curriculum courses or had the equivalent during the NCSU master’s program or at another accredited institution;
  • A minimum of 12 semester hours of graduate-level plant pathology courses or graduate-level courses from other departments approved by the student’s advisory committee and DGP (at least 6 of those semester hours should be at the 700-level);
  • Serve as a teaching assistant (PP 885) for two courses, one with a lab component;
  • 2 doctoral research seminars (PP 801): a dissertation research proposal seminar presented to the student’s advisory and other program members and dissertation research presentation at the annual spring semester Ph.D. Symposium (PP 801 – one semester hour each);
  • Remaining hours in any graduate-level course in plant pathology (including dissertation research PP895) or related field of study to complete the 72 semester hours.

Additionally, the doctoral student must successfully complete:

  • Unconditionally pass the preliminary comprehensive examination (written and oral components)
  • Conduct original research leading to a dissertation, and
  • Unconditionally pass the final comprehensive oral examination that includes a seminar and defense of the dissertation.
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Core Curriculum (Required)

All Degrees (MPP, M.S., and Ph.D.)

Course Number Course Name Credit Hours Semester
PP 501 Biology of Plant Pathogens 3 credit hours Fall
PP 502 Plant Disease: Principles, Diagnosis, and Management 2 credit hours Fall
PP 506 Epidemiology and Plant Disease Control 3 credit hours Spring
PP 707 Plant Microbe Interactions 3 credit hours Spring
PHI 816* Introduction to Research Ethics 1 credit hour Fall and Spring

*Or, at least one semester hour of another graduate-level research ethics course.

Students who previously have not had a plant pathology course are strongly encouraged to take ‘Principles of Plant Pathology’ PP 590-003 (3 semester hours).

Master of Science (M.S.) Degree

  • PP 601- Seminar in Plant Pathology (1 semester hour offered fall & spring semester Symposia)
  • PP 685 – Supervised Teaching of 1 course (1-3 semester hours)
  • PP 695 – Thesis Research no more than 6 may be used on the plan of work (major advisor may require a minimum of 1 semester hour per fall and spring semesters)

Doctoral (Ph.D.) Degree

  • PP 801 – Seminar in Plant Pathology 1 semester hour dissertation research proposal NO later than start of 5th semester and 1 semester hour dissertation presentation offered fall & spring semester Symposia no later than 7th semester
  • PP 885 – Supervised Teaching of 2 course (1-3 semester hours for each)
  • PP 895 Dissertation Research as required to complete the 72 semester hours (major advisor may require a minimum of 1 semester hour per fall and spring semesters)

Advanced Courses in Plant Pathology

  • PP 575 – Introduction to Mycology (4 semester hours, fall odd years)
  • PP 715 – Applied Evolutionary Analysis of Population Genetic Data (3 semester hours, fall)
  • PP 727 – Ecology of Soil Ecosystems (3 semester hours, spring even years)
  • PP 590/790 (001) – Field Plant Pathology in NC (summer even years, register fall semester)
  • PP 610/810 (001) – Genomic Science Journal Club (fall and spring semesters)

Also, on a variable semester basis specific course sections may be offered as:

  • PP 590 Letter Graded Special Topic Master’s Courses

NOTE: Courses at the 500 level are letter graded. Students cannot enroll in these courses for ‘credit only.’

  • PP 610 S/U Topic Master’s Courses
  • PP 620 S/U Problem Master’s Courses
  • PP 790 Letter Graded Special Topic Doctoral Courses

NOTE: Courses at the 700 level are letter graded. Students cannot enroll in these courses for ‘credit only.’
Registration in 700-level courses is restricted to graduate or PBS status

  • PP 810 S/U Topic Doctoral Courses
  • PP 820 S/U Problems Doctoral Courses

Application Checklist

Students must complete the application process online at the NC State Graduate School. Review the Graduate School’s summary of application and admissions procedures for more information.

A complete application consists of the following:

  • Online application form
  • One (1) official transcript from each college/university attended*
  • Personal Statement**
  • Resume**
  • Three letters of recommendation**
  • Official GRE scores (the Plant Pathology program does not require GRE) — Institution code 5496**
  • Official TOEFL scores or IELTS scores**

We cannot evaluate prospective students prior to completion of the application process with the Graduate School.

*Send all transcripts to:
The Graduate School
North Carolina State University
1020 Main Campus Drive, Room 2300A
Campus Box 7102
Raleigh, NC 27695

**Do not send documents to the Department of Entomology and Plant Pathology. Submit all documents and supporting materials, including letters of recommendation, through the online application process.

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Contact Us

Program Director

David Ritchie
dfrpp@ncsu.edu
919-515-6809

Graduate Student Services Coordinator

Kat Lyons
kelyons@ncsu.edu
919-515-6677
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